Catalan president to attend Spain-France summit on January 19

Governing party ERC set to join pro-independence bloc's protest of Sánchez-Macron meeting in MNAC museum in Barcelona

Catalan president Pere Aragonès during his Saint Stephen speech on December 26, 2022 at Catalonia's National Library
Catalan president Pere Aragonès during his Saint Stephen speech on December 26, 2022 at Catalonia's National Library / Arnau Carbonell Vidal
Catalan News

Catalan News | @catalannews | Barcelona

January 10, 2023 12:18 PM

January 10, 2023 09:40 PM

Catalan president Pere Aragonès will attend the Spain-France summit scheduled for January 19 in Barcelona.

The event will take place in the Catalan National Art Museum, at the foot of the Montjuïc hill by the magic fountain.

Both Catalan and Spanish cabinets are "finalizing" arrangements on the role Aragonès will play in the meeting between Spanish PM Pedro Sánchez and French President Emmanuel Macron – yet, at the same time, Aragonès's governing party, Esquerra Republicana de Catalunya (ERC), are set to protest the event, alongside other pro-independence groups. 

"We believe that the institutional representation has to be present," government spokesperson, Patrícia Plaja, said on Tuesday after the weekly cabinet meeting. "We do not want to refuse the spaces that we deserve," she said.

Plaja said that the cabinet will not attend the pro-independence rally against the summit but said that they "understand it and respect it," accusing the Spanish executive of using the location of the meeting for "partisan" means.


"The government should be at the institutional event, and the pro-independence campaign at the demonstration."

According to protocol – as the Catalan government has pointed out – the institutional representatives of the place where these types of meetings take place are offered to play the role of hosts. 

Summit about H2Med

The summit held in Barcelona between Spanish and French authorities will address the announced H2Med green energy pipeline project that will connect the Catalan capital with Marseille.

The leaders of Spain, Portugal, and France agreed to move forward with this joint "green energy corridor" replacing the unfinished MidCat pipeline championed by Catalan authorities.

The Spanish government has organized this summit in Catalonia to highlight the importance of the city in an international environment and also to praise the role it will play in energetically connecting Europe and Spain, the executive spokesperson, Isabel Rodríguez, said during a press conference on Tuesday.

The summit is "a good opportunity" to "show the good institutional relationship between both governments," she said. 

Officials expect Aragonès to be in the welcome hand-shake as the summit will see "the Treaty of Barcelona" signed, an updated version of France and Spain's friendship pact.

Catalan parties in favor

The confirmation that Pere Aragonès will attend the meeting was welcomed by the Socialists as an "important" step.

"It is important that the President takes the role that he has been invited to have," Alícia Romero, PSC spokesperson, said Tuesday during a press conference in Parliament. For her, the president must go to the summit as he "represents all Catalans," and it is "a situation of normal institution relationships," she added.

For far-right Vox spokesperson Joan Garriga, while they respect Aragonès attending the summit, "we do not have any other choice than respecting institutions, and those in power are these characters, so it is normal for them to be part of these summits," he said.

However, for the far-right, the demonstration outside the venue is part of the "normal tries of the pro-independence groups to try to boycott the act." 

Government in summit, party supporting cabinet in rally

However, ERC has announced that it will also join the protest organized by pro-independence civic organizations Catalan National Assembly (ANC), Òmnium Cultural, and Consell per la República. 

"The independence push is still alive, our desires are still clear, we'll continue calling for Catalan self-determination and an amnesty," ERC spokesperson Marta Vilalta said on Monday. 

Other pro-independence parties Junts and CUP will also take part in the demonstration, which would see the independence movement show a united front after months of clashes over strategy, including Junts's departure from the Catalan government

"Poisoned invitation" 

Junts president Laura Borràs described Madrid's proposal to host the Spain-France summit in Barcelona as a "poisoned invitation" for Aragonès. 

In an interview with Spanish public broadcaster RTVE, Borràs said the gesture of choosing the Catalan capital for the meeting is a "provocation" to try to show the world that the independence process is over.

A spokesperson for the Catalan Socialists, Alicia Romero, criticized that ERC are trying to do "two incompatible things at once."